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Special session ‘a failure of leadership,’ Rep. Chris Turner (D) says

Jason Whitely, WFAA

DALLAS – State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, said Governor Greg Abbott’s call for a special session next month is a failure of leadership and shows he needs to be more involved in the legislative process.

“The reality is this special session announcement is really representative of a failure of leadership on the governor’s part. He wasn’t engaged at all during the regular session. That was the time to talk about issues and push the legislature if he wants to get things done. He’s just simply trying to seize the spotlight here and trying to get some of the attention back on him,” said Turner during an appearance on WFAA’s Inside Texas Politics Sunday morning.

Last week, Abbott summoned lawmakers back to Austin on July 18 to consider 20 items in 30 days from renewing the Texas Medical Board that licenses doctors to the bathroom bill, property tax reform, and a $1,000 pay raise for teachers.

Turner said Abbott’s predecessor, Governor Rick Perry, a former lieutenant governor and lawmaker, was more engaged in the process.

“While I disagree with him a lot, he was always there on the House floor. He’d slap your back. He’d cajole you, he’d say I want this done and cut this out. He had that kind of dialogue. Gov. Abbott doesn’t seem to have interest in the legislative process,” explained Turner.

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Wendy Davis to speak at ‘Young Women’s Leadership Challenge Conference’ in Houston

by CBS Austin

On Monday, former Texas state senator Wendy Davis kicks off Austin’s first “young women’s leadership challenge conference” today.

Previously only held in Houston, the six-day conference expands this year to other cities in Texas.

Nirenberg defeats Taylor by large margin to become San Antonio mayor

In a decisive victory, Councilman Ron Nirenberg defeated incumbent Ivy Taylor on Saturday, winning the mayor’s seat after a divisive runoff election in which Nirenberg questioned Taylor’s leadership and the incumbent’s campaign painted Nirenberg as “Liberal Ron.”

Taylor served just one elected two-year term after she was appointed to the seat in 2014.

Speaking before hundreds of supporters at his campaign headquarters, Nirenberg said he and his campaign exceeded everyone’s expectations but their own.

“Tonight, the voters got it right — on a lot of things. Tonight, the voters rejected the politics of division and false choices,” he said before a raucous crowd of a few hundred supporters. “And they said yes to a bigger and brighter vision of inclusion, of diversity, of fairness, or respecting each and every person in San Antonio, no matter if you live on the North Side, the South Side, the East Side, the West Side or any place in between. Tonight, the voters said yes to a mayor for all of San Antonio.”

 

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New Paxton case judge to be picked at random in Harris County

By Bobby Cervantes

AUSTIN – As early as next week, one of Harris County’s 22 district judges could find out that they have been randomly chosen to preside over the securities fraud case against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

In a Friday order, Judge George Gallagher, a Tarrant County-based Republican, directed the Collin County District Clerk’s Office to transfer the case’s proceeding to the Harris County District Clerk. That effectively triggers the search for a Harris County judge who will preside over the high-profile trial scheduled to begin in the fall. Gallagher’s order also vacated several previous orders he made in the case.

Gallagher’s order comes after a Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruling this week that removed him as the judge overseeing the case against the embattled Republican attorney general, who been accused of illegally recruiting investors from a North Texas tech company without telling the potential investors he would get a financial kickback. Paxton, 54, has denied any wrongdoing.

Special prosecutors asked the state’s highest criminal court to keep Gallagher on the case, but the panel denied their request and sided with Paxton without explaining its decision.

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Rick Perry: ‘First-ever’ natural gas exports offer hedge against Russia

by John Siciliano

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said shipments of U.S. liquefied natural gas, or LNG, arrived in the Netherlands and Poland on Thursday.

“U.S. LNG has begun arriving in Europe with some frequency, providing a diverse source of supply and ensuring energy security for Europe,” Perry said. “Europe has been looking to the United States as a key potential source for energy diversification to decrease Russia’s leverage as the region’s dominant gas supplier.”

The Trump administration has made approval of natural gas exports a key part of its energy and national security strategy. The U.S. is the world’s top producer of oil and gas due to the fracking and shale energy boom. The Energy Department has direct authority over approving licenses for the multi-billion dollar LNG terminals required to ship the fuel abroad.

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Abbott “shuttle diplomacy” tested as Straus, Patrick reached impasse

A review of Gov. Greg Abbott’s schedule during May provides a glimpse into the final stretch of the legislative session, where the governor tried in vain to bring together lawmakers to avoid a special session.

BY PATRICK SVITEK

In recent weeks, Gov. Greg Abbott has spoken emphatically of his efforts to bring together lawmakers to avoid a special session — an ultimately unsuccessful mission.

“The conversations were almost constant,” Abbott recalled in a radio interview Thursday. “For at least the last two, maybe three or four weeks of the session, for pretty much the entirety of the month of May, I was doing shuttle diplomacy between both the House and Senate leaders to cut a deal to get this done.”

A review of Abbott’s schedule during May provides a more nuanced portrait of that final stretch, which was consumed by sharp divisions between the House and Senate. Abbott spent most of the first three weeks of May regularly holding meetings with legislative leaders, including as many as eight times in one day. But during the final week of the session, as negotiations between the chambers collapsed and the meetings with Abbott all but stopped, save for a last-minute huddle with a pair of House lieutenants on the Friday before lawmakers closed out the session on May 29.

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North Texas Toll Rates To Increase On July 1 (VIDEO)

DALLAS (CBSDFW) – It will soon cost you more to drive on many North Texas toll roads.

The North Texas Tollway Authority announced toll rates are going up on July 1.

TollTag members, on average, will pay an additional penny member pile, from 17.06 to 18.01 cents.

ZipCash customers, who pay an average of 50% more than TollTag members, will also see an increase in their rates.

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Senator Lacks Faith SB4 Can Be Enforced, Police Chief Disagrees (VIDEO)

By: Derick Garcia

Palmhurst, TX – The tiny town of Palmhurst, Texas has under 3 thousand residents, but is similar to many border cities, it is made of a predominantly Hispanic community and Hispanic police force, “and we’re here for the citizens” said Police Chief Michael Vela. Chief Vela has been with the department for more than a decade and has seen significant growth in the citrus farming city and in his department with additional officers and new headquarters.

Another change to state policing is looming, come September 1st, the sanctuary city law take effect, giving police the authority to ask for immigration documentation under lawful detention. Currently law allows police to ask once a person has been charged. Because of an amendment in the law, critics have dubbed it the “show me your papers” law. Hispanic lawmakers argue the language opens the door for racial profiling and violates civil liberties. Chief Vela argued his department will not be actively seeking illegal immigrants, “if you’re a criminal and you get caught that’s a totally different story.” Said Chief Vela.

Late May, Chief Vela was recognized by Texas Governor Greg Abbott following an op-ed in the San Antonio Express News. Governor Abbott Applauded Chief Vela’s support to enforce the law, along with 22 other Law Enforcement agencies along the Texas-Mexico border, “it’s not too where we are going to enforce it, you know? We are not there to create fear for the community. We are here for the community regardless of status.” Said Chief Vela.

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Mayor Turner Wants to Join Other Texas Cities in Fight Against SB 4

BY STEPHEN PAULSEN

If Houston is a sanctuary city, Mayor Sylvester Turner wants to keep it that way.

Turner announced Thursday morning that he plans to fight Senate Bill 4, more commonly known as Texas’s new “sanctuary cities” law. “I will ask…City Council to consider and vote to join the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB4,” Turner said.

It’s unclear yet when exactly the vote will be or how many of the city’s 16 council members plan to support it.

Only Councilman Robert Gallegos, who represents heavily Hispanic District I in East Houston, made his position clear. “I stood on [the] Capitol steps on behalf of my constituents weeks ago to denounce #SB4,” Gallegos said on Twitter, adding that the new law was “unconstitutional.”

One other city council member offered what appeared to be more tepid endorsement. Councilman Mike Knox, an at-large member, simply retweeted the mayor’s announcement.

Signed by Governor Greg Abbott in May, SB 4 has spurred local protests and drawn national condemnation. Although other states have passed laws cracking down on undocumented immigrants, SB 4 goes significantly further by also threatening local officials with punishment.

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Catastrophe avoided as tractor-trailer chase ends in fiery crash on I-30 in Arlington (VIDEO)

BY RYAN OSBORNE

Hank Morgan was driving eastbound on Interstate 30 on Friday when an 18-wheeler, using the left shoulder as a passing lane, sped by him “with both front tires out and on fire, doing at least 80 miles per hour.”

Morgan said the big rig, which was being pursued by Fort Worth police, narrowly missed him.

“About 200 feet in front of me, it veered right and hit the wall near the bridge,” Morgan said, detailing his adventure on a Facebook post, complete with photos. “I didn’t see the actual impact because of another truck, but I did see the flames and smoke erupt!”

The 18-wheeler had led police on a chase “that could have been catastrophic” Friday afternoon, leaving I-30 littered with crashed vehicles from Fort Worth to Arlington and shutting down the busy freeway for hours. The big rig, reaching speeds of 100 mph as it weaved in and out of traffic on I-30, caused at least five other crashes.

Luckily, no serious injuries were reported.

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